Ryka Exuberant Review

9.1 score
[Editors rating (9.1)] = (WalkJogRun) score (9.1)/10

Editor rating: 9.1 / 10
User's rating: based on 0 user ratings
1 star
2 star
3 star
4 star
5 star
Add your Rating

Owned by Caleres, Ryka is a brand with a ton of global sister companies that exemplify a commitment to quality and performance. Caleres has created a legacy dedicated to making its customers feel amazing - “feet first”. Caleres created Ryka because they knew women of the world needed great footwear. The Ryka Exuberant shows what the brand is all about: comfort, support, and versatility. This walking shoe has an extremely supportive construction. Its engineering is tailored to meet the demands of a woman’s body and gait, so you can expect to feel fantastic with every step. The right walking shoe can inspire you to get active, which is exactly what this Ryka Exuberant accomplishes. This Ryka will certainly surprise those new to the brand, so don't hesitate to give the Exuberant a try.

Editor's Pros & Cons

Designed For Women

Balanced Heel

Cushioning Throughout Footbed

Great Arch Support

Mesh Collar/Tongue


Slightly Unattractive

Not Extremely Lightweight


Ryka is a brand made specifically for women. Not in the sense of some other designers, that may make shoes that only appear more feminine, but in a strict performance way. Their approach is carefully formulated, their designs all have a purpose far beyond how they look or merely feel. Ryka has studied the individual needs of a woman’s body, and what results is a thoughtful addition to anyone’s performance gear. Part of their insight comes from their attention to the “q-angle” this is the angle that sums up the relationship between the hip and knee. On women, this angle measures five to seven degrees greater than it does on men. Injury can become a great risk, because this greater angle leads to us bearing weight on the outside of our feet, causing problems with stability and balance. Ryka has heavily researched how best to accommodate the specific biomechanics of women, which has led them to boast some of the most insightful fits and engineering in the industry for women. For women who are looking for a walking shoe, and have had problems in the past with some brands who have a more unisex approach, Ryka could be the solution to their problems.


This knit material that makes up the upper on the Ryka Exuberant is merely decent when it comes to breathability. The mesh collar and upper panels lend a bit more breathability to the overall design of the shoe, but it isn’t necessarily engineered to allow for a lot of airflow throughout the shoe. With many walking or running sneakers, the fabric is specially woven to allow moisture to be wicked away and air to circulate through the shoe. This knit fabric is a woven synthetic, but purely synthetic materials are generally the least breathable of options when not blended with natural materials. The mesh tongue provides the most breathability of any other part of the shoe. If more mesh had been incorporated, or less of a mix of the synthetic materials were used, it would probably perform better in the airflow department. This isn’t to say that it completely fails at letting the foot breathe, but without a natural cotton sock, you could probably easily get uncomfortable depending on how much you are exerting yourself while walking.


Ryka is specifically made for women, which means far more comfort than the average sneaker in everything they make. For this sneaker, Ryka implements a few of their classic sneaker updates to ensure comfort and fit for women. It starts with a narrower heel than in most unisex brands and men's shoes, to match a woman’s anatomical foot shape. On the instep, there is increased volume, so it won’t pinch and squeeze or depress the foot. A too low or tight instep can ruin a whole workout. Ryka’s Exuberant has a secure footbed that is integral, due to the fact the footbed itself is carefully designed for support and stability. The front of the shoe has a roomier forefoot. Most women have a bit of toe spreading when walking to help balance them and walk comfortably. While many shoes, especially women's shoes, restrict the toe and the instep, this shoe allows them to have as much room as they need for ultimate comfort and support.


One thing that is a really helpful feature of shoes is certain elements of protection on the upper or outsole. On this Exuberant by Ryka, there are features to ensure longevity in wear and support regardless of how long you own and love this shoe. On the upper, rubber features intended to protect the areas of most wear are included. The heel and the toe are specially built up, so you won’t have that “talking sneaker” effect, no matter how rough you are while wearing these. The heel doesn’t merely just come up from the outsole with a rubber bumper like on the heel, but it also has supporting panels that nearly reach the collar. If you’re a walker, you know the sole and the contact points of the upper face some serious wear after time. Enhanced protection is indispensable for those who want a shoe that will actually last beyond just a year, or even just a couple long walks. Overlay panels on the body of the shoe also add protection against snags or scuffs on the fabric.


Ryka makes phenomenal outsoles. From their specially engineered pivot-point designs to their everyday options, it really is hard to beat them when it comes to security in your step. The midsole and outsole on this Exuberant by Ryka is made from compression-molded EVA. Their patented technology is called Flexology, and it allows Ryka to create highly flexible outsoles to accompany you while in motion. Moving with your foot in every step, this outsole is light and highly pliable. As mentioned when discussing durability, rubber panels are added to improve the strength of the shoe, but they also add a necessary stiffness to give a bit more stability where you need it. The traction is extremely unique and in a chevron detail, with additional lugs that are placed all over the bottom of the shoe. A fantastic grip is a final detail that makes for a great outsole. It all starts with the materials and molding though, and it needs to be emphasized that from top to bottom this shoe has an outstanding structure and design.

Shock Absorption

An EVA midsole and outsole combination is, of course, going to do wonders for shock absorption. What EVA is best at is giving a high energy return and bounce back with every step. It absorbs energy while still pushing back against the ground. The layers in the insole that are intended for comfort on the Exuberant by Ryka are yet another barrier to shock and impact injuring your foot and sole. Due to the anatomical nature of the insole, there isn’t empty space or areas of discomfort inside the Ryka Exuberant. This precise fit and close to the body construction allows for less empty space for impact to reverberate. Ryka’s Exuberant will deaden any force or impact before it interferes with your foot inside the shoe. The rubber areas on the sole also help to give some protection against impact, especially if you are going to be walking up or down inclines, outdoors or at the gym.


Technology is crucial in all the wonderful features of this Ryka Exuberant. While some brands rely on their already established reputation to sell shoes, Ryka is constantly trying to develop ways to make their shoes even better for women and, more importantly, women’s feet and health. A drop-in midsole provides stability for the foot to stay exactly where it needs to, while also giving heel-to-toe cushioning. Anatomical insoles are very useful in creating greater stability in a shoe. When everything hits exactly where it needs to, it boosts the overall support and stability of the shoe by providing a firmer foundation for your foot. The collar on the Ryka Exuberant comes up a bit higher than a lot of sneakers designed for women. Though this may take away from the more sleek profile and silhouette, it balances the position of the ankle. Keeping in mind the “q-angle” mentioned earlier, Ryka designed a shoe that understands the ins and outs of a woman’s foot, making for an overall more stabilized wear experience. Its stacked midsole and outsole is quite thick, but that doesn’t take away from the firm ground feel, thanks to an intuitive heel-to-drop.


Where the Exuberant is lacking a bit is the style. Static knit is on-trend and adorns the upper of this sneaker, but otherwise, the aesthetic falls a bit flat. A chunky upper with mesh detailing is kind of dated. Chunky profiles are very much the style right now in a streetwear sense, but this isn’t really hitting that mark. It appears to be suited for an older wearer. There are of course ways to dress up the Ryka Exuberant if you want to wear them casually. An outfit can make the shoes as much as shoes can make an outfit. However, if you aren’t in the business of trying to upstyle something that isn’t really your style, to begin with, then pass this Ryka up for a more contemporary option. In only black and gray, there isn’t even really a color option to spruce up their appearance. Anyone looking strictly for a walking shoe that they aren’t going to be styling with their everyday outfits would probably be happy with this Ryka. Those who just shop for comfort would absolutely have their needs met here, it just is slightly disappointing in the looks category.


Support is a wonderful thing in a sneaker. The Ryka Exuberant provides next level support with a series of features that work together to create something beautiful. A molded heel counterbalances each step, giving you great support in your gait. Ryka’s trademark Anatomical Precise-Return has extra built up cushioning on the arch and heel. Similar sneakers generally neglect to provide adequate arch support to those wearing them, a failure of design and execution. Minimal heel-to-drop makes for far less strain on the foot, ankle, and knees. Even the hips benefit from the alignment and support built into the Exuberant by Ryka. On the outsole, a wide base creates a large point of contact with the ground. This protects from injuries due to its stability, but it also prevents ankle rolling in just casual walks. Compression-molded EVA is in both the midsole and outsole, making this super soft, to begin with. In addition to the EVA base, the cushioning system of memory foam is another layer of supple softness for you to absolutely love.


EVA is one of the lightest ways to make outsoles and midsoles. Not only does it have obvious performance applications due to its softness and spring back, but it is also feather-light. There is a slight complication to the overall weight of the shoe, however. This Ryka has rubber guards to enhance its longevity. Greater durability of materials comes at a price. Due to this, the shoe is slightly heavier than some of its walking counterparts. This is about the weight of a slightly higher rise sneaker, like a mid or a high top. For walking, it doesn’t make a very big difference. Small discrepancies in weight won’t cause you to lag, and it really won’t be noticeable at all. In competitive running, small increments can increase or decrease your overall speed. You won’t encounter that kind of problem with a walking shoe. Since the shoe is already quite light, what is most important is the support and comfort. The heel encourages a nice rocking motion when walking and it is made of a material that won’t make you feel weighed down, so any slight increase in weight due to additions to the shoe aren’t really a factor.

Bottom Line

Anyone looking for a super accommodating walking shoe, the Ryka Exuberant will be quite the lovely addition to your collection. The brand is centered around the needs of a woman’s foot and the quality of the shoe really shines with all of its specific detailing. Anatomical insoles have plenty of cushioning. A balanced heel allows for a comfortable stroll or a long walk without foot or leg pain. Designed to meet the needs of women, the Ryka Exuberant is an awesome shoe to wear for daily walkers or those trying to incorporate more physical activities into their lives. All too often people will feel immediate discomfort with working out because they aren’t using the correct gear, this shoe is a great one to ease someone into getting moving.